Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hungarian Nockerli

Lately I've been on a "family recipes" kick, and I've been cooking up a storm. Today, I decided to go ahead and attempt to make one of my childhood favorites, that it sort of like the Hungarian version of the Italian gnocchi (but not made with potatoes), and sort of like the Hungarian version of the German spaetzle (okay, exactly like it, except with Hungarian paprika).

It is often served alongside a goulash or a chicken paprikas, but when I was a kid and we went to the Hungarian restaurant (it's a decent amount of work to make, and not terribly nutritious so my grandmother didn't make it super often), I always ordered the Weinerschnitzel (traditionally veal, but often chicken) and had nockerli on the side instead of the oven-roasted potatoes that were meant to come with it. In any case, here we go with the recipe:

1 cup A.P. flour
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
optional: 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (if you like the taste of nutmeg; i don't, and its more appropriate for the German than the Hungarian version)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine

1. Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another.
2. Make a "well" in the dry, and pour the wet into the well, and using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients by taking a little of the dry and integrating it into the wet, a little bit at a time. Mix well, but do not overmix. The consistency should be smooth but thick. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes, while...
3. Put a large pot full of about 3 quarts of water to boil, then reduce to simmer. Assuming that takes about 10 minutes...
4. Spoon the battle into the hot water to form little dumplings. The shape is meant to be somewhat haphazard, but they're not meant to be gigantic dumplings. I'd say 1-1.5" long and 1/4" in diameter. But I'm just sort of making that up. Since its a very sticky batter, I like to use two tea spoons. They make special "collanders" through which you push the dough to form the dumplings, but I say death to unitaskers.
5. Allow the dumplings to cook 1-2 minutes in the water. They should float to the top when done, but they might slightly stick to the bottom of the pot. Shake the pot a bit, or use a spoon to un-attach them so they float.
6. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove from the pot, and continue until all the batter is cooked (this will take a while, since you should not overcrowd the pot)

From here, any number of sauces can be made to go with the nockerli. Here is an easy one that I like to use:

1. Melt 3 tbsp. of unsalted butter or margarine in a pan, and once it is all melted and starting to foam, add the cooked nockerli.
2. Sprinkle liberally with the paprika, and stir to coat the nockerli in the paprika butter sauce.

Now, eat it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is not how my hungarian mother in law made the sauce, but the nokerli are about the same. now i am going to make it with the paprika chicken , and see if it is as good as i remember it.EZ